Our society runs on energy – transportation moves the goods we buy as well as getting us to and from work and out and about buying things – we have come to depend on our houses and places of work having heating and cooling as the seasons change – our many appliances make life easier for us – we need electricity for lights, servers, computers, printers, copiers – our manufacturers need energy to produce goods – our farmers to plant and harvest.
Whether all of this convenience and comfort is good for us is another question. I will say nothing to that question here.
A number of years ago, when I attended the Iowa Association for Energy Efficiency yearly convention – IAEE is mainly a trade organization – to which I belong – one of the speakers – who was from one of the military branches – gave a demonstration of a computer program that modelled ways of getting us through the future to an energy solution where fossil fuels had run out and were replaced by renewables – if I am remembering right. The model indicated that all energy resources would be required to get us to that future point at our current standard of living.
I think that is why people with money are so scared. They fear we will destroy our economy – that there are not solutions to our energy needs which maintain our lifestyle and which do no include the use of fossil fuels.
Models, whether they be climate models or economic models – and I am quite sure physical science is a heck of a lot more rigorous than economic science at this point in knowledge – are subject to the assumptions about and mathematical understanding of the processes being modelled.
There are many women and men who have been concerned about our energy future and our use of energy over many years now.
The Union of Concerned Scientists – which is an advocacy group that started at MIT – and to which I also belong – has done modelling of the use of renewables to supply our energy needs and has found – I believe it was for electrical demand but it may have been for total energy demand – that renewables will do the trick.
My experience with ideas and computer programming tells me that as an idea or program develops, newer and easier ways of approach become manifest. I think we will find the same will be true with energy. And the oiling of the ingenuity machine that government policies provide will help us get through this problem. And, yes, there will be failures as well as successes.
Back in 1973, I was a senior in college – I was a physics major and was doing my senior thesis research on solar energy – I built two solar collectors and measured the amount of heat they absorbed over a few days. I was inspired to do this topic after reading about alternative energy in the 1964 Proceedings of the United Nations Conference on New Sources of Energy: Solar Energy, Wind Power, and Geothermal Energy, Rome, 21-31 August 1961. Many of the methods given in the proceedings are being developed now. If you can find a copy, it’s worth reading.
Anyway, I fear climate change more than disruption from energy resource change, so I have voted Democratic.